By Huang Lijie
Some people see the world in a grain of sand. For Chinese historical fashion enthusiast Gong Pan Pan, universal beauty and significance is codified in sartorial splendour.
The 32-year-old public servant found herself wrapped up in ancient Chinese fashion and culture in 2015, after dressing up in outfits from different Chinese historical periods for her wedding photo shoot. The loveliness of traditional Chinese clothing caught her fancy, and its rich history and artistry has continued to fan her passion in the subject.
She pores over books on the topic and scours the Internet for images of artefacts and historical paintings that offer a look at fashion back in the day. Her research, in turn, inspires dress-up sessions with like-minded friends. She shares photos of these sessions on her blog and social media channels, along with detailed writings about the historical references of the fashion depicted.
She says: “I used to think fashion is frivolous and that it feeds the economy of vanity.” But her plunge into the world of Chinese historical fashion has made her confront her bias.
“A dress is not just a dress. It tells us something about the evolution of cultures and the exchange of ideas,” she says. This is the premise of her talk at the Esplanade on fashion trends in ancient China that would seem cutting-edge to audiences today. Here, she offers three titbits: